The O-Week debate

Absurd

With first year complete, James Popkie offers a satirical perspective on the tomfoolery that unfolds as first-years arrive

Dear first year students: congratulations, you’ve made it into university. In past years, this would have put you in the upper intellectual elite. Nowadays, well, you’re probably above average at least.

To put things in perspective, as of the 2006 census, six out of 10 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 have post-secondary education with an estimated 23 percent having university credentials. If long-term trends have held up, the number has only increased since then.

Upon first arriving at university for Orientation Week, you may soon find yourself bombarded with a frightening display of pandemonium. You may feel unsure as to whether you’ve ended up in an institution of higher education or a disturbing and heavily-brainwashed cult.

All these new students, most of whom are strangers to one another, are feeling every bit as awkward and insecure as you are, uniting in a frightening display of groupthink.
There are those who do not desire or are simply unable to get immersed in the spirit of the festivities; if you feel this way, you should not be disheartened, or give in to pressure to stand up and cheer.

The whole thing smacks of brainwashing and the sleep and food deprivation definitely don’t do much to hinder this feeling.

My more paranoid inclinations would have me believe that Orientation Week is probably some kind of experiment in breaking people down to dispel their individual identities in submission to an arbitrary collectivist identity, in preparation for further indoctrination over the course of university.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into it and it’s just a silly tradition.
I remember my friend and I being the only two people sitting down and making jokes and cynical comments amidst a sea of people enthusiastically standing up, cheering and chanting for something that essentially meant absolutely nothing.

I’m not fundamentally opposed to being enthusiastic, but I prefer it to be about something I genuinely feel some emotional attachment to.

We were part of the Blue Lycans, an Orientation Week team based around the theme of werewolves. I had a feeling if Orientation Week went on any longer, there would have been Lycan members filing their teeth into fangs, clawing opposing team members and howling ceremonially at the full moon.

Once all the ridiculous hoopla of Orientation Week has settled, you will probably find yourself adjusting comfortably into the normal university lifestyle. Although in university, normal is a relative term.

Many of you, especially those living on residence, may feel empowered with a new found sense of freedom.

You may experience countless opportunities to engage in all sorts of behaviours that may have been previously forbidden or inaccessible, such as copious amounts of alcohol use, sex and other such shenanigans.

Make sure that whatever decisions you make are based on your own personal preferences and not social pressure, whether that pressure be pushing you toward or away from such experiences. Besides, any friends who won’t accept your own life choices probably aren’t worth having as friends in the first place.

Humbling

After much deliberation, Kimberly Elworthy addresses the fundamental lessons learned from day one of life at WLU

It’s weird coming to the end of my university experience. I feel like the same person still – a slightly rebellious, naïve teenager – but I know I have changed and grown into a capable adult.

University, thus far, has offered itself to be a huge challenge, albeit more personally then academically. I have had to figure out who I am – a long, tedious journey that is never complete.

However, the transition from childhood to adulthood is an intense and notable one. This is probably the most complicated test that happens while serving one’s four years, more than any sit-down exam can offer, and arguably more crucial to one’s existence.

It is the environment of university rather than the course syllabi that truly affects the someones core. Not to say that the academic offerings do not matter, I have learned a lot about the world that I will carry with me through life when I leave next April, but the experience is nevertheless the key.

The first week, or Orientation Week, is definitely an… interesting one. The things required of you are immature, obnoxious and exhausting. From an objective perspective, it is a ridiculous event and I do not blame anyone who would be hesitant to participate, as this was my point of view as a fresh-faced-cynical-barely-turned-18-year-old.

However, I found myself roomed in Bricker residence with two very peppy individuals that were, fortunately, impossible to ignore. And as much as I hoped to avoid the festivities, my Ice Breakers (senior students somehow even more excitable then Jack Russell puppies) hammered at our door non-stop at 6 a.m. until we woke up and joined in the “fun.”

I should not be so cynical though, because I am still alive and will be forever grateful to those students for forcing me out of my comfort zone to take part in something different.

To begin one’s time at university, an apparently mature institution, by running around screaming chants and playing games reminiscent of camp in grade five while decked out in team colours is a very humbling experience.

I came to university pretending to be grown up, pretending to know something about anything, pretending I knew what would happen to me every year; I took myself very seriously, too seriously for any teenager.

I left high school a tad pretentious and extremely bent on becoming obscenely successful with my fancy business degree where I would then fight my way up the dark and dirty corporate ladder in the field of marketing and advertising.

I had everything planned out accordingly and worked hard to get where I was; but if I have learned anything it is that I had no way of knowing three years later I’d have grown a strong distaste for business and a love for writing.

The thing is that university comes to everyone in its own unique way – that is what makes it the best and most memorable time of your life. The more challenges we come across, the more we learn about who we are or who we are not.

So, if I had to offer any insight to my first-year self, it would be to take every moment for what it is and enjoy it immensely, whether or not it is what you expected.

And also to realize that the essence of Orientation Week is simply a bunch of impractical activities that teach us all to be a little silly, enjoy the company of individuals who are as equally confused and alone, miss out on some sleep and know that through everything that will happen to you here, it’s okay to laugh at yourself.

University can be the best time of your life as long as you manage to get decent marks, make good friends and have some fun, whatever form that fun may take.

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